Articles and Analysis


Electoral Vote Bar Chart Update

This chart shows where McCain must gain, and where Obama must hold in order to get to 270.

States appear in order of Obama minus McCain margin. Width is proportional to Electoral Vote. It takes 269 to tie, 270 to win. The yellow states are very close and jumping around a bit with each new poll. Finally, the classification is based on my PoliticalArithmetik model, which directly estimates the margin, rather than Pollster's which estimates each candidate separately. So this should be very close to Pollster, but on close calls we may differ by a couple of tenths of a point, and that can sometimes shift a state from lean to tossup, or lean to strong if the state is right on the edge of a classification.



Shows why Obama has been spending so much time in FL.

In some ways it is both the first and biggest bite.



It similarly makes it clear why McCain would try to flip PA, whether that is likely to work or not.



Obama HQ, if you are seeing this, I believe this shows the value of locking down the two remaining states we need, PA and CO. Let's send some air and ground attack their way even if it means less money in AZ and similar states.



Steph, I agree with your premise, but I disagree with your conclusions. Obama should try to put as many states into real contention as he can, and here are my 4 reasons why.

1) Spending campaign money in one particular region probably has a point where it reaches diminishing returns, and may in fact start to back fire once your ads and promotions are beyond the saturation point.

2) Obama has enough money that in some ways money has become unlimited with respect to campaign spending, so airing an advertisement in Arizona doesn't mean there will be one less ad airing in PA.

3) None of the states that have been real battlegrounds can ever be considered safe before the ballots are counted. So just in case one of the states that are polling as an Obama win actually turns out to wind up for McCain, it's a good strategy to build up a big safety buffer. That way even if you lose one of the states that you thought you were gonna win, you still have a real chance of winning at least one of the several other states that you've put into serious play.

4) This is a zero sum game. Every state that Obama wins is a state that McCain loses. If Obama can make it seem reasonably possible that he might win a state that McCain was counting on as safe, then McCain has to put resources into defending those states. And since Obama has a huge resource advantage over McCain's campaign, it especially works to his advantage. For every 1% of Obama's campaign money that he has to use to advertise in a less likely dem-win state, McCain will have to spend 3% of his campaign dollars trying to defend it.

More states in play = advantage Obama.



I appreciate your comments, garbuhj, perhaps the bottom line is to make sure Obama has enough money and make sure Dems go out to vote, and I would still say, especially in those two states of PA and CO but certainly in all battleground states. The problem is the tyranny of the majority and the tyranny of the electoral college that has haunted the Democrats for the two previous presidential elections. This tyranny is the result of nearly half of the country having no say in what goes on because a handful more people voted in a particular state. We need to pool our resources in a few key states or else we could end up winning the popular vote and losing the election again. i'm afraid that leads of less than 5% in any of last election's red states can evaporate and the tyranny of the electoral college prevail. So let's work on leads of 10% in two critical red states.



DTM, I disagree that this shows why McCain stumped hard for PA. This shows the RESULTS of that stumping, not the REASONS for it. He only succeeded in moving a state that was already strong Obama to one that was only somewhat less so - moving it from the center of the dark blue bar to the left part of the dark blue bar. Big mistake, IMO. He should have instead been spending more time consolidating his support in the shaky red states, i.e. the ones that are now toss-ups (yellow) or lean Obama (light blue) and Colorado (dark blue). And maybe also the "purple" states that were closest the past couple of elections (IA/NM/NH/WI). This was his only "path to victory". The fact is, he wasted all that time spent campaigning in PA.



I wonder why wash DC is so increadibly (80% or so) democratic in every election.



Early indications are the new young voters are NOT turning out. And with all the long lines and suppression efforts enough new registrants will not be counted, legally or otherwise. Big crowds don't always translate to votes. Again, many mistake genuine enthusiasm for turn out. That's why we will get 4 more years of McBush.



Wow I totally love this bar chart. To my way of thinking it shows, as Ken pointed out, that McCain wasted his time & money in PA. I also agree with garbuhj even though I would love to see Obama campaign in my state (AZ). Realistically though, he needs to put his time into the states closest to his side of the line (CO, VA, NV, OH, FL), and positive airtime into all states that aren't deep red. Tall order for one human being, but hey it's a pretty tough job these guys are applying for right?


rami - the demographics of DC are in large part poor and minorities. Like many large cities, the rich fatcats move to the "suburbs" in Virginia and Maryland, leaving behind those who cannot afford better. There are some exceptions in DC, but the wealthy enclaves of Georgetown and North-West DC cannot compare with the rest of the population.

The poor and minorities disproportionally vote for Democrats.



McCain has probably already lost in CO. From the latest PPP poll of CO :

"65% of the folks we surveyed said they had already voted, and among those respondents Obama is winning 58-41."

Not only are all of these votes banked for Obama, but now his campaign can concentrate on GOTV with the smaller pool of sporadic Dem voters who didn't vote early. This makes GOTV that much more effective. Also, news reports yesterday stated that McCain campaign is cutting back on GOTV in favor of television ads!

Colorado + strong dem states = 273 EV (269 to win).


Dana Adini:

Co is already locked down


Dana Adini:


yes early voting indicates solid wins for Obama in Iowa,New Mexico, Colorado and probably Nevada....when PA is called for Obama the election is probably over


Let's assume for argument sake that all the undecided votes go to Mc Cain and use Pollster's current state polling numbers. Then sort the states by percentage for Obama and cumulate the electoral votes to find the cumulative electoral votes at the 50-50 point. That's the point where Obama has just over 50% of the vote. At that point he has 284 electoral votes using current Pollster state percentages. That's why McCain must turn a blue state red.

Now the four Obama states leading away above the 50-50 break point are Nevada (5), Virginia (13), Colorado (9) and Pennsylvania (21). The only single state that would take away enough electoral votes would be Pennsylvania 284-21=263 (Obama comes up short). The alternative would be to combine Virginia with either Nevada or Colorado. That tells me why McCain is focused on Pennsylvania. It's a single state solution.

The states for Obama below this break point are Ohio (20), Missouri (11), North Carolina (15), Rhode Island (4) and Florida (27). All other things being equal winning any of these except Rhode Island would cancel out losing Pennsylvania for Obama. Obama with superior resources is going after all four.


I've done a similar diagram myself, but using something more like a bar chart: see it here, complete with JavaScript mouseovers:

margin bargraph



Thanks for this. I definitely want to compare this to the results Tuesday, it will show which states have more people who lie about their votes, if Obama happens to lose in Florida, Ohio or Virginia for example (light blue states), or loses big in some of the yellow states like Indiana, North Carolina, and Missouri.

The rednecks (and hey I'm one of them) are what worry me. I remember in the primaries for example some people I knew voted in the Democratic primary even though they were Republican, and voted for Hillary just out of spite and racism.

Btw, there was a not so great Chris Rock movie where he runs for President. One the last day they show scared white people running down the streets to vote against a black guy becoming President.


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